Northumberland to launch first food and drink conference

Produced in Northumberland reaching out to become a mark of ‘culinary excellence.’

Picture of designed around Northumberland’s distinctive red and yellow flag
Logo designed around Northumberland’s distinctive red and yellow flag

THE hospitality and retail sector across Northumberland is being urged to sign up to support the best of locally produced food and drink.

The county launched a pilot scheme called Produced in Northumberland in February 2016 in a bid to boost consumer confidence and the local economy by guiding visitors to local businesses offering authentic county foods.

Organisers of the pilot will now be holding a Produced in Northumberland trade event – the county’s  first food and drink conference – bringing together all sectors interested in food & drink at Morpeth Town Hall,  Morpeth,  on 4 October 2016 between 9.30am and 3pm.

It is open to organisations or companies in the county who use food and drink as part of their business.

And they want the hospitalityand retail industry to come along and see the benefits of promoting the use of local produce in shops or on their menus.

The pilot is a joint initiative between Northumberland county council, Active Northumberland and Visit Northumberland. The voluntary verification scheme covers any food manufacturer, retailer and caterer who applies and is accepted on to it.

Figures show that visitor expenditure in Northumberland in 2015 was £816m, an increase of 5% on 2014. The economic impact of the food and drink sector accounted for 30% of all employment and 36% of all expenditure, which equates to £293.76m.

Northumberland fish n chips
Northumberland fish n chips

VisitEngland also revealed last week that August saw the highest number of day trips taken in any month since 2012, with 151 million day trips across England, up 14% on August 2015.

And North-east England saw the largest percentage increase (34%) in the number of day trips January to August with 52.8 million trips, compared to the same period last year.

Dawn Goodwill-Evans, Active Northumberland’s senior business development officer, said: “We know that not just visitors but day trippers and residents are looking for authentic experiences when they come here and that they want to be able to eat and buy local food and drink.

“This is a chance to shout loud and proud about the great food and drink we have in the county. People like to know that products are locally made. And we have a fantastic range of high quality food and drink coming from across the county, whether it is Craster kippers, jams, bread, Alnwick Rum or meat.”

What makes this pilot scheme different?

The scheme is certified by the Public Health Protection Unit, with audits taking place alongside annual health and environmental inspections.

Producers, retailers and restaurateurs have to prove to visiting trading standards and environmental health staff that the food and drink they are making, selling or serving is genuinely made in Northumberland.

For butchers, checks are also carried out on the provenance of animals.

Bed and breakfasts and other hospitality businesses have to demonstrate that a certain number of main foods being used on their menus are produced in the county.

And retailers need to ensure that a proportion of food and drink is made in Northumberland by different producers.

Only once these criteria have been met are successful businesses able to display the official Produced in Northumberland certificate in their shop, restaurant or bed and breakfast, use the logo (designed around Northumberland’s distinctive red and yellow flag) on their labels, literature and online, and feature on a new website.

The latter, currently being developed, will allow consumers and traders to search by category to check who in the county are a true supporter and promoter of Northumberland food and drink.

So far the scheme has 55 local producers signed up alongside a handful of restaurants and bed and breakfasts.

Trade visitors to the event will have a chance to help develop a Northumberland Food and Drink Charter 2017.

Free tickets can be booked by visiting http://bit.ly/ProducedinNorthumberlandEvent

There will be a £3 charge for a locally produced lunchtime sausage or cheese butty, payable on the day.

For further information contact either Dawn Goodwill-Evans on 01670 624766 email: dgoodwill-evans@activenorthumberland.org.uk or Ken Henderson on 01670 623794 ken.henderson@northumberland.gov.uk

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